Crossing the equator on the Zaandam – The King Neptune Ceremony

Crossing the equator on a cruise ship is a good excuse for a party! The King Neptune ceremony is a fun spectacle for the guests, and a chance to haze new crew members who have never crossed the equator on a ship before.

It involves judges, pirates, mermaids, doctors and nurses, and other dressing up. The band plays everyone in with a march. Then, after the cast is introduced, they march in the “pollywogs”, the crew members who haven’t crossed the equator yet.

They pollywogs are let out of the prison according to department (deck, entertainers, bar staff, front office, cast, spa, etc) and are accused by the judge (fictional crimes). Then King Neptune announces the punishment, ever more disgusting interactions with the fish (kiss, lick, suck, french kiss, lick the eye, etc). Then every pollywog is covered in dish water and goo. Finally the officers put thumbs up or down, and the pollywogs either get to wash off in the pool right away, or sit to bake in the sun.

I was asked to be a pirate, but in the end I opted to take photos. I missed the very start due to forgetting to put the battery in my camera, but had a lot of fun capturing the event. The cruise director shared the photos on the internal ship network, and it’s been very satisfying hearing all the compliments from all the crew who took part and liked my photos.

Unexpected travel adventures around the Pacific.

Above: New Caledonia.

I love my job! I get paid to juggle, and as a cool side effect, I get to see the world. Sometimes I see more of the world than I first expect, and sometimes I see more than I want. For example, on my next flight between ships.

I’m currently on the HAL Zaandam, sailing from Hawaii to Pago Pago, American Samoa. This takes about six days, with five days at sea in a row. That’s cool, because I had a few amazing days in Hawaii.

My schedule said I would leave the Zaandam on the 14th of November, and join the HAL Amsterdam in Sydney on the 15th. Then I’d stay on the ship in Sydney overnight, and sail out on the 16th. Shouldn’t be a problem. Right?

But someone at head office didn’t think this through, and I didn’t catch the mistake either. Not at first. I realized that due to crossing the International Date Line, I’d lose 24 hours. If I set off from Pago Pago on the 14th, I wouldn’t arrive in Sydney until the 16th. But if the flights worked out, I could still make the ship.

The flights didn’t work out. There’s good news and bad news.

Good news:

My flight from Pago Pago isn’t until 2320 on the 14th. This means instead of going directly from the ship to the airport and seeing nothing in American Samoa, I’ll be able to explore the island for the entire afternoon.

The bad news:

I have an overnight flight to Honolulu. I arrive at 0530 on the 15th.

The good news:

I have 5 hours free in Honolulu. I intentionally didn’t do any tourist stuff in the city when I was there a few days ago, instead I opted to take a bus ride to the North Shore to see Sunset Beach and the Pipeline. I thought “If I return to Honolulu, I’ll not have time to do such a trip again, but I will have time to visit Pearl Harbor.” It turns out I was correct, but I didn’t expect to return within a week.

The bad news:

A nine hour flight to Tokyo. I take off on the 15th and land on the 16th.

The good news:

My first visit to Japan! Also, according to my records, this will make Japan the 100th country I’ve ever visited, according to the Travelers’ Century Club country list.

The bad news:

I won’t have time to do anything in Japan except walk around the airport.

More bad news:

My next flight is ANOTHER overnight flight. Twice in one trip. And this is what breaks my brain: each of the three times I fly I’ll take off on one day and land the following day, but I only have two overnight flights.

The good news:

I arrive in New Caledonia at 0730 on the 17th. This means I have the whole day to do whatever I want on the island. Considering New Caledonia is a place I’ve wanted to visit for the last 20 years or so, since I first saw photos in a book about dinosaurs, I’m very happy with this development.

More good news:

Instead of spending two days at sea between Sydney and New Caledonia, I’ll be spending those days on New Caledonia. That means I get to spend two nights in the hotel, and a second full day exploring the island.

And then I’ll transfer to the ship on the 19th, probably do my show that night, but then have ANOTHER two days on various islands of New Caledonia.

From there we sail to Fiji. From Fiji I then transfer to another ship in New Zealand. Who knows what will happen during that connection. I really, really hope I get two days to do what I want in New Zealand before the ship turns up.

The bad news:

10,791 miles flown between two islands in the Pacific. How close if I could get a direct flight? Maybe 1,000 miles.

So balancing the good and the bad, I’m sure this will end positively. At least I hope this will end positively. Two overnight flights in a row is a small price to pay for unexpected adventure opportunities.

Fight Night 2005 – Luke vs Luke – aka my “Rocky” act.

An old routine from 2005! I was asked to be the final act at the Nottingham Juggling Convention that year, on the account that I did “something new, something clever, or something funny.” Over the course of about four days I made the entire video above, plus the Luke passing with Luke video, PLUS a whole new video for my “3 ball and video” routine.

This Rocky act was a lot of fun to make. I’d thought about it for a long time, so once I got going it didn’t take long. Thanks to my mother for helping out with the camera work.

I performed this act four or five times in 2005, and it remains the only act I’ve ever performed without dropping even once. It helps that all I do is shuffle about while juggling 3 clubs, but the pressure is there. If I made one drop, the entire routine is spoiled.

I’ve not performed it since 2005, and never got round to sharing it. I had three versions on video, but one was unusable in any form. Due to technical problems, the sound from the Berlin Juggling Convention Gala Show 2005 was unusable, but the video looked good. And then the sound from the RIT Juggling Festival 2005 Gala Show video was good, but the video unwatchable due to overexposure of the video screen.

So I combined the original montage video file, the stage act and some sound from Berlin and the sound from RIT together into one video. Hopefully you didn’t notice!

Who knows, maybe I’ll perform this live again some day, but it depends if I’m invited to do so at a juggling convention.